Coming from a decade in San Francisco and a few years in the mid-South (where three inches of snow meant TOTAL shut-down), I’m enthralled by living in hearty Maine.
Bar banter abounds with tales of snow boarding and ice fishing. Portland Harbor Hotel’s ice bar sells out in mere hours. Winter is not just embraced – it’s celebrated.
I know, I know – we’re still in the honeymoon phase with months to go. Luckily, our fair city provides loads of culinary wonders to comfort us through the cold.
Below are some of my favorites. What are yours – and why?
The Seafood Udon Soup at Little Seoul. Out-of-this-world kelp broth steams my pores as I plunge the depths of a great big bowl for hearty chucks of salmon, scallops, Maine shrimp, fresh veggies and thick, meaty noodles. This newish Korean restaurant is doing MANY things right (I’ll publish a full review soon), but this stellar Udon deserves a separate spotlight.
Karmasouptra’s Borscht. Lunch-time lines snake through the Public Market this time of year, but the little soup purveyor’s frothy bowls are well worth it. I’m partial to the tangy, beety Borscht – crowned with a dollop of sour cream. Karmasouptra’s vegetarian version isn’t shy with the cabbage, which adds a bitter bite that’s right down my alley.
A Vietnamese Coffee at Bard. When the temp drops, I set aside my usual French press – and even my large latte – and go straight for the calorie-laden condensed milk and dark espresso of Bard’s Vietnamese. Creamy, sweet, rich and hot. ‘Nuff said.
Sitting Fireside at Flatbread. While I’m usually more of an Otto gal, I find myself drawn to Flatbread’s wood-fired ovens this time of year. Nothing beats sitting near the arched earthen doors watching flames crisp up a disc of milled wheat laden with homemade maple fennel sausage, sun-dried tomatoes, caramelized onions, mushrooms, cheese and herbs. Yum. (That’s right – I said yum).
Ginger Manhattan at Havana South. Ginger-infused whiskey brings a flush to my cheeks as warming waves envelope my body. Sweet vermouth adds a touch of lightness and enables a second round. Heartier souls than I might enjoy The Scorned Woman. Its chile-enflamed (“infused” is too tame a title) vodka will set your hair on fire.
Baked Beans and Brown Bread at the Front Room. Something about the thick and crusty dark bread and hot, hearty beans just seems, well – right – for wintertime brunch. Topped with an oozing, basted egg, the dish delivers solace when the winds howl off Casco Bay.